Have you ever noticed your mood when it’s a beautiful day outside? You have more energy, you’re smiling and laughing, and you feel like giving random people high fives in the halls at work. It’s almost as if you are a new person coming out of hibernation to enjoy the spring weather. Sometimes it takes a cold and bitter winter for us to really appreciate the beauty of spring. Just like Jesus’ resurrection, spring is a season of new life. Jesus had to endure terrible darkness leading up to His resurrection to bring us freedom and restoration.
I love how nature and the outdoors represent so much of what Jesus embodies. Everywhere you turn you can see God’s work. It may be as big as the Grand Canyon or as small as the dandelion growing in the crack of a side walk. There is beauty in both, and everything between.
For me, being outside and experiencing nature is how I connect best with God. I feel His presence in nature. It’s easy to forget the beauty that is all around us when we are consumed with the hustle and bustle of this demanding world, but when I take time to experience his creation, I’m able to relax and reflect on all the things God created in this world. I can look at an insect and realize that every life is significant to God because He created it and no issue of mine is too small to bring to Him. I can look at a tree and think of its age and strength and realize that there are trees that stood even before Jesus’ time on Earth. I can feel the wind on my face and know that God is present because of Job 37:15 (NIV):
Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes His lightning flash? All those thoughts stemmed just from taking a walk outside and being both present and aware of my surroundings.
Taking time to be outside may be one of my main ways to connect with God, but it’s scientifically proven to improve your overall health!
Here are a few of the health benefits:
Boosts the Immune System
When we breathe in fresh air, we are breathing in chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. As a result, our bodies produce a cell that kills off other viruses and tumor infected cells in our bodies.
Helps Fight Depression and Anxiety
Multiple studies support the idea that exposure to green space can ease anxiety, depression and other mental health issues by improving self-esteem and mood.
Improves Ability to Focus
Our lives are busier than ever, and it can be mentally draining, focusing on so many activities at once. Spending time in nature gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break and acts as a recharge.
Time spent in nature lowers levels of cortisol, which is a hormone often used as a marker for stress.
Being in nature can also lower blood pressure, improve mood, improve short term memory, lower inflammation, and help prevent production of cancer proteins.
This doesn’t mean you have to travel to the mountains to see these benefits for yourself. Start planning out your week. Try to schedule time once a week, and find some green space near where you live to recharge your mind.
It is so important for everyone to find a vertical connection that brings them closest to God. Whatever that may look like for you, find it, and use it! If you are having a hard time figuring out what that connection is, try answering some of these questions: What’s your passion? What are you good at? Where do you find peace? How do you escape the chaos of this fast-paced world? Chances are, you can find God in all of those things.